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Janice Bryant Howroyd – CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF ACT 1 GROUP

June 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Feature

by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud

More than 3,000 women convened in Las Vegas recently for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council convention. There, such keynote speakers as Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien touched on the challenges and triumphs of business in the 21st century. One of the most highly anticipated presenters was Janice Bryant Howroyd, chairman and CEO of Act 1 Group, which bills itself as “a global leader in human capital solutions.” Las Vegas Black Image Magazine spoke with Howroyd on the current state of job placement in America, and coping with the crisis of Nevada’s 21 percent African-American unemployment rate. 

Tell us about Act 1.
For me, I realize the blessings that work offers. Everything I do professionally, at the core, is about keeping people working — whether they are working on the way to a career or working in a career. It is about making certain that we at Apple One Employment Agency (a subsidiary of Act 1) create the best vehicles to make that career happen. Many companies in my industry focus on finding companies as customers, not finding good employees. Certainly, that is a byproduct of what we do, but our core focus and our core value is keeping the worker engaged in the best possible way. It is my belief and my experience that when we do that, we are keeping companies happy. So, the applicant is our customer. I invite you to go to any of my 400 offices throughout the country and ask, “Who is the applicant?”  The answer will always be, “The applicant is the center of our universe.”

How many Apple One Employment agencies are there in Nevada? 

We have five offices here in Las Vegas. Everyone in my company is taught that they are entrepreneurs. It doesn’t matter who signs their check, they have the right to write it. So, everyone approaches their work as individual entrepreneurs.  

What do you think about the disproportionate number of African-Americans unemployed across the nation? 
It should be noted that the unemployment rate nationally for African-Americans is much higher than represented in the national statistics. The numbers don’t give a realistic representation, because so many of us don’t make ourselves (available) to the national data gathering process. Therefore, the suggestion is that it may well be in the mid-to-high 30 percentile of unemployed African-Americans. 

So, what is your suggestion? 
First, let me say that I fundamentally recognize that there is a problem. The problem will take a village to cure, just as it takes a village to raise our children. I do recognize the situation as a challenge. I take the solution to finding employment for African-Americans individually. Same as the opportunity to grow a business — the solution is to lose the peripheral about how many of us are unemployed. You have to lose the mental roadblocks toward opportunities and treat yourself as one person. Once you get to that mindset, you are able to evaluate who you are. People have to be honest about themselves and where they are in the search for a job. Re-entering the job market today has to be retaught. We are in a “new normal,” financially and politically, that has dissolved the lines that have separated us from the global economy. I am doing business internationally now because of technology. So, one has to look at themselves as one person — and you have to step back, as a person looking for a job, and ask yourself, “What do I bring to the job market?” I believe utilizing employment agencies to assist one in finding a job is the best way to go, and it will also assist to evaluate your readiness for a particular job. Companies don’t hire you and don’t pay you based on what you need to earn. They don’t pay you according to what you used to earn. They will pay you based on what they have determined is the best way to get the best talent at the most effective cost. The bottom line is that each person looking for work has to think of themselves as an enterprise and know their talent, skills and value.

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